Penny and Leonard’s tumultuous relationship is a core part of The Big Bang Theory and a love story for the ages. Their on-screen chemistry is one reason why they’re fun to watch, even though it fades a little in later seasons.
Apart from the entertainment they provide with their back and forth relationship, interspaced with other partners like Priya and Zack, another reason they’re one of the best couples on the show is because of how relatable they are. Even though their relationship comes with an extra helping of drama, there are some aspects of it that mirror what real-life couples go through.
10 They Get Along In Spite Of Their Differences
The phrase “opposites attract” is a good way to describe Leonard and Penny. Leonard is a man of science who loves comic books and lots more nerdy stuff, whereas Penny is the fun, witty lady with a passion for acting. In spite of their differences, the two of them have a great relationship and their different traits complement each other.
Real-life couples share something similar. While they may have some things in common, certain characteristics and traits are different. Regardless, they learn to accept each other’s differences and have a successful relationship, just like Penny and Leonard do.
9 They Feel Insecure
From the beginning of Leonard and Penny’s relationship, he repeatedly expresses his insecurities when it comes to being with Penny. Most of them are a result of their different characters and the fact that Penny has more dating experience than him. In the episode “The Egg Salad Equivalency,” Penny admits that she also feels insecure about how smart he is and worries he might lose interest in her.
Feeling not feeling good enough to be with a significant other is quite common in real life and that’s one of the most relatable things about Leonard and Penny’s relationship. Insecurities can often lead to jealousy — another common thing among couples. In healthy relationships, this is something a couple discusses and works through together by reassuring their partner, just as Leonard and Penny do for each other when one of them is feeling insecure.
8 They Support Each Other’s Careers
Penny works as a waitress for most of the show while struggling to get her acting career off the ground. When she quit her job to focus on acting, Leonard offers his support, after initially disagreeing with her decision, and even buys her a car so she can get to auditions. Likewise, even though Penny doesn’t understand Leonard’s job, she offers to help him get tenure and later encourages him to be more assertive at work.
Most couples can identify with this aspect of the relationship, as they often rely on each other for support when it comes to their careers or following their passions. Even with partners that work in different fields, like Leonard and Penny, being each other’s biggest cheerleaders is only natural.
7 They Break Up Several Times
Throughout the course of The Big Bang Theory, Leonard and Penny break up and get back together several times. The reasons for the breakups vary from not being ready for the next stage of the relationship to disagreements over various issues.
Although their on-off dalliance was both funny and sad, they’re an accurate depiction of real-life relationships. Of course, in reality, the breakups aren’t quite as dramatic, but they do happen. Considering it lasted the duration of the show, it’s no surprise they were a few breakups along the way, as that also happens in some long-term relationships.
6 They Remain Friends After Breaking Up
Even when they’re not dating anymore, Leonard and Penny maintain a civil relationship. Penny continues to hang out with him and the other guys in their apartment and the two of them also go out for dinner and a movie as friends on one occasion. Even when Penny starts dating Zac and Leonard gets involved with Priya, their friendship is still solid.
Beyond the world of TV shows, continuing a friendship with an ex is not a concept that’s unheard of. In relationships that end in a civil manner, the couple can choose to remain friends, and sometimes that friendship works better than a relationship. Although Penny and Leonard find their way back to each other eventually, that’s not always the case, in reality.
5 They Each Take An Interest In What Their Partner Likes
Even though most of Leonard and Penny’s interests don’t align, they each make an effort to take part in what the other loves. At one point, Leonard joins her and her friends to watch a football match, even though he doesn’t understand it. Penny also plays chess with him (and beats him, to his surprise) and she even quotes a line from one of his favorite franchises in the episode, “The Wheaton Recurrence.”
After spending lots of time together, people start to take an interest in what their significant other loves. It’s a way of getting to know them better and brings them closer together. Penny and Leonard start to understand each other better this way, even though she continues to make fun of him for loving comic books and superheroes.
4 They Take Care Of Sheldon Together Like Parents Would
By the end of the show, Leonard and Penny are expecting a child. Even though the audience doesn’t get to see them raising it, their relationship with Sheldon comes pretty close to showing what they’d be like as parents. On several occasions they treat him like he’s their child, even referring to a parenting book for tips on how to handle him in the episode, “The Collaboration Contamination.”
While not many couples have a friend like Sheldon to baby, those with children can certainly relate to the dynamic between him, Leonard, and Penny. Like the sitcom couple, real-life ones have sometimes felt frustrated by their kids but still love them regardless. “The Spaghetti Catalyst” showed a different angle when Penny took Sheldon to Disneyland and even Howard and Raj commented on how twisted it seemed that they were acting like a separated couple.
3 They Have Disagreements About Money
Leonard and Penny’s finances remain unbalanced throughout the show. At first, he makes more money than her, but once she becomes a pharmaceutical sales rep, the scales tip in her favor. They even have an argument about it on Wil’s podcast in “The Fortification Implementation.”
Of every aspect of their fictional relationship, the struggle with money is one that many real-life couples can strongly relate to. Finances are a delicate subject in relationships, to the extent of making or breaking them. Although some might find a way to balance out the scales, others have disagreements stemming from the size of their paychecks, like Leonard and Penny do on several occasions.
2 They Have Complicated Relationships With Family
Both Leonard and Penny have a complicated family situation, although hers has less drama. Leonard’s issue is mostly with his mother, who’s emotionally distant and favors Sheldon over him. The strained relationship between them causes awkwardness between Penny and her mother-in-law too. The ladies’ relationship improves with time, but things between Leonard and Beverly only change slightly.
During the course of a relationship, people are likely to meet and interact with their partner’s family. Although sometimes it goes great and everyone immediately hits it off, other times it doesn’t go so well. Complicated family dynamics are actually a recurring trope on The Big Bang Theory, showing how common it is, both in fiction and the reality it mirrors.
1 They Feel Differently About Having A Baby
One controversial plot point in the final season of the show was Penny and Leonard’s disagreement over having children. Leonard sees it as an out-of-the-blue decision that Penny made without consulting him or asking how he feels about it. But it actually indicates a larger issue with their communication skills as a couple.
The issue of whether or not to have children is one that many couples have conflicting thoughts around. While it’s ideal to discuss such a serious issue earlier in the relationship, some couples, like Leonard and Penny, leave it to the last minute. Even the change of heart Penny has once she falls pregnant is realistic.